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Fall semester begins with sweeping anti-virus measures

Updated: Aug 31,2021 21:38    Xinhua

BEIJING — Posting one-meter distance signs, putting up infrared thermometers, and setting up temporary observation zones, schools in China are ramping up anti-virus measures while welcoming the fall semester starting from Sept 1.

The Chinese mainland on Aug 30 reported no new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, with the latest resurgence since July, caused mainly by the highly contagious Delta variant, waning in the country.

China's Ministry of Education (MOE) on Aug 27 asked schools to strengthen the health monitoring of their students and faculty members before the beginning of the new semester.

Schools are not permitted to begin classes if they fail to meet local COVID-19 control standards or if they are not fully prepared for an emergency.

Strict anti-virus measures

In the Primary School Affixed to East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai, every classroom is equipped with epidemic prevention kits — hand gel placed at the front door, anti-virus packages on each desk with masks, health manuals and other supplies for students to use on campus.

"Besides temperature measurement at the gate, students have their temperatures taken twice a day. Windows will be open for good ventilation and each classroom will be disinfected," said school official Bi Yunying.

"The anti-epidemic efforts have been part of the campus work, and will not disturb school operation. For example, lecturers from outside the school will still come to give courses and carry out activities," Bi said.

In Shanghai's Luwan Middle School, robots are used in spraying disinfectants in corridors. Before the new semester, the school has arranged emergency drills for epidemic prevention and control.

On Aug 31, temperature-taking equipment at the school gate of Beijing's Peking Academy High School has been ready, and the staff has carried out comprehensive disinfection of the school.

School vice-principal Hong Jing said that since Aug 8, all members of the school including teachers, students and staff began to report their daily temperature.

On Aug 31, Jiang Yunhang, a seventh-grade student in the city of Dandong, Northeast China's Liaoning province, went back to school to register for the new semester.

"We maintained social distance and entered the campus in an orderly manner. The seats in the classroom are single ones, with enough space in between. There are also hand sanitizer and alcohol available in the classroom," said Jiang, who is among the 616 freshmen of the school.

The Dalian University of Technology in Liaoning encourages "staggered shifts," asking students to return to school from Sept 4 to 10. In the new semester, some grades will adopt online courses. The university said it will promote the implementation of online and offline teaching based on the epidemic situation.

Vaccination for minors

With the new school year to begin, vaccination targeting students, one of the most effective ways in combating the virus, has been thrown under the spotlight.

Beijing required vaccination for minors 12 to 17 during the past summer vacation. The vaccination process is expected to last until mid-September.

"We are giving shots to students according to relevant rules and regulations, with 95 percent of the minors in our school having been jabbed so far. Some could not get the shots for health reasons," Hong said.

With the country extending its mass vaccination program to minors between 12 and 17, more than 124 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered among the age group as of Aug 26.

In East China's Zhejiang province, authorities in the education sector began to promote vaccination early this year. So far, 90.56 percent of teachers in the province have been jabbed and the percentage of vaccinated college students reached 91.12.

The province administered vaccines to teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 since August, after getting the consent of the students' parents or guardians. No mandatory requirements have been imposed for minors. So far, 47.4 percent of the age group have been vaccinated in Zhejiang.

As of Aug 24, a total of 171 sites had been set up in 16 districts of Shanghai, providing vaccine services for young people 15 to 17, with over 190,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered.

"We will continue to coordinate vaccination for minors 12 to 14 according to their needs," said Ni Minjing, deputy head of the municipal education commission.